Review: Strathmill 25 Years Old Limited Edition 2014

#5 of 11 in the 2014 Diageo Special Releases is this rarity from Strathmill, located in Speyside. Strathmill is predominantly used in blended whisky, making this old expression exceedingly rare. The whisky has spent 25 years in ex-Bourbon barrels and is bottled at cask strength. This is classic, beautiful Speyside at the perfect age. Liquid…

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Review: Alaskan Brewing Company Big Mountain Pale Ale

Do you like fruit? Do you like pale ales? Have I got a brew for you: Alaskan’s new spring seasonal, Big Mountain Pale Ale. Alaskan explains: Big Mountain is a flavor departure for us, with a very new combination of hops that we have never used in our bottled beers before,” said David Wilson, Alaskan’s…

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Review: Caol Ila 30 Years Old Limited Edition 2014

Yesterday we experienced Caol Ila’s unpeated expression; today it’s the full monty, and bottled at a full 30 years of age — the oldest Caol Ila ever released by the distillery itself. #4 in the 2014 Diageo Special Releases is a peat bomb straight outta Islay, distilled in 1983. After 20 years or so, peated whiskies…

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Review: Frank Family Vineyards Zinfandel and Chardonnay, 2015 Releases

Napa’s Frank Family has two of its flagship wines ready for their 2015 debut. Thoughts on the winery’s Chardonnay and Zinfandel follow. 2013 Frank Family Vineyards Chardonnay Carneros – Same aging regimen on this Carneros bottling — barrel fermented in 34% new, 33% once, and 33% twice-filled French oak barrels for 9 months. Moderately tropical on the nose,…

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Review: Caol Ila Unpeated 15 Years Old Limited Edition 2014

Caol Ila is an active Islay distillery, and any Scotch nut knows that means peat and lots of it. But once each year Caol Ila makes unpeated whisky, just for kicks. This is one of those releases, a 15 year old “Highland style” spirit distilled in 1998. This expression, #3 of 11 in the 2014 Diageo…

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Review: Brora 35 Years Old Limited Edition 2014

Whisky #2 of 11 for Diageo’s 2014 special releases is a familiar one: Brora 35 Years Old, which is being issued for the third time in three years. Distilled in 1978, this is a classic expression from a long-shuttered distillery. (Shuttered in 1983, there can’t be much Brora left out there.) The nose is a…

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Review: Benrinnes 21 Years Old Limited Edition 2014

One of the most anticipated annual events in Scotch whisky is now upon us: Diageo’s Special Releases, antiquities both old and new (mostly old) from some of Scotland’s most storied distilleries. We’ve covered these releases for a few years, and 2014 (as each is formally labeled) presents us a bigger bounty than usual: 11 whiskies…

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Review: Bender’s Whiskey Small Batch Rye 7 Years Old Batch #2

What we’ve got here is Canadian rye, aged for seven years, then shipped off to San Francisco’s Treasure Island for bottling by a craft distilling operation, Treasure Island Distillery. The label says seven years, but actually for this second batch, the mashbill has been updated (now it’s 92% 9 year old rye, 8% 13 year…

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